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Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 01 February 2007 |  Written by Mel Odom  | 
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Based on the acclaimed novel by Roald Dahl, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is now a standard for kids’ movies, partly for the imagery and simple, good-hearted story with values, and partly because of the endearing way Gene Wilder portrayed the title character. (Dahl wrote the script.) The set-up is great for kids. The mysterious Willy Wonka, master candy-maker, has been gone from the public eye for years. Before he closed his factory and stopped allowing the public in, people used to stop by to see how he made all his wonderful candies. Except that there was a very evil man named Mr. Slugworth (Gunter Meisner) who tried to steal Willy’s recipes. As a result, Willy Wonka got to the point that he didn’t trust anyone. He withdrew from the public eye, but his company continued to produce wonderful products. Now, , Willy Wonka is once again going to open the doors ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 01 February 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Ray “Ray” is an ideal subject for a high-definition DVD release. It is, of course, full of music, and the sound recording here is excellent. It’s also a period piece, which means that everything is designed for the film, so there’s an automatic emphasis on detail provided by hi-def. Furthermore, the extras are numerous and interesting, the commentary track is way above average, and the documentaries are well-produced even if, as common with Universal DVD releases, somewhat repetitious. “Ray” is not as exceptional as Ray Charles, its subject—how could it be?—but it’s a terrific movie biography, engrossing and involving for its entire two and a half hour length. The time slides by so gracefully that at the end you’re likely to wish it were even longer; partly because it comes to a surprisingly abrupt end, thirty years before Ray Charles died. Ray Charles died after the film was finished but before it was released. For ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 01 February 2007 |  Written by Darren Gross  | 
Fast and the Furious, The: Tokyo Drift High school student Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) finds himself in trouble with the law after participating in a road race that trashes both his car and that of his competitor, an obnoxious jock on the football team. Sean’s mother makes a deal to save him from severe punishment and sends him to Japan to stay with his father (Brian Goodman), her ex-husband. Initially a fish out of water in Japan, Sean quickly finds his way (via fellow American student Twinkie) into the twilight world of “Drifting”-- a type of garage and road-racing that involves sliding the rear of the car as much as possible, especially around every corner. Sean is befriended by cool “Drifter” Han (Sung Kung) and finds himself falling for Australian Neela (Nathalie Kelley) which puts him at odds with the “Drift King” (Brian Tee). This third chapter in the “Fast and the Furious” series is a definite step-up from ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 01 February 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Backdraft This huge, elaborate thriller, tautly directed by Ron Howard, is as corny as a 4th of July fireworks show, and about as spectacular. The script by Greg Widen is old-fashioned and uncomplicated, with stereotypes instead of characters, and a plot as obvious as a knock-knock joke. But this kind of melodrama's familiarity can actually be comforting because we don't have to judge anyone, we don't have to struggle with concepts — they become part of a well-known ritual, and the setting and events pop into relief. As with all melodramas, the story of "Backdraft" isn't anywhere nearly as important as how the story is told — and Howard tells it very well. It's the same kind of familiarity as an old-fashioned song, a Western, or a private eye whodunnit. This was the first large-scale movie about firemen, which is surprising, because it plays like a remake of an old Jimmy Cagney-Pat O'Brien movie, ...
Editor's rating: 
Monday, 01 January 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Forbidden Planet On my 13th birthday in 1956, my mother drove some friends of mine and I from Gardiner, Oregon 30 miles south to North Bend to see the movie I had been almost desperately anxious to see: “Forbidden Planet.” It was the best birthday present of my life, and became part of my life; though I knew it wasn’t perfect, it was my favorite movie until “2001: A Space Odyssey” supplanted it. It’s still one of my favorites, enough so that I’m among those interviewed in the “Amazing!” documentary included on both the high-def and standard DVDs recently released by Warner Bros. Warners has treated the movie very well. The original negatives were used for the digital transfer; flecks and specks were cleaned up perfectly, and the color has never been better, not even in the original theatrical releases. It’s in Eastman color, which tends to fade very rapidly, but now has been restored ...
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